Wilkes-Barre Area School District issues response to Auditor General’s inquiry

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Wilkes-Barre Area School District has issued a response to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s request for details on the district’s construction and consolidation plans for its new high school.

In a letter released to the public on the district’s website, Superintendent Dr. Brian J. Costello lists the measures the district has taken to avoid falling into a financially distressed designation. Costello says a report provided by the PFM group in March of 2016 indicated that if “draconian measures” weren’t taken, the district would have been facing a deficit of $36 million in the 2018-2019 school year, and a $70 million deficit come the 2020-2021 school year.

The district took the following actions to avoid financial distress:

  • Wilkes-Barre Area Board approved the action plan “Pathway to the Future”
  • Furloughed 37 teachers
  • Furloughed 24 support staff
  • Eliminated an additional 12 teaching positions
  • Eliminated all (8) Dead of Student positions
  • Curtailed the following programs:
    • Elementary & Junior High Art
    • K-12 Library
    • Industrial Arts
    • Family and Consumer Science

Furthermore, the district has consolidated the following positions:

  • Assistant Superintendent
  • Director of Transportation
  • Director of Pupil Personnel
  • Director of Secondary Curriculum
  • Director of Elementary Curriculum
  • Director of Data and Cyber Services
  • Building Technology Coaches
  • Departmental Coordinators
  • Instructional Support Teachers
  • After Hours Security
  • Custodial/Secretary Positions

According to the letter, the district has gone from the projected $36 million deficit to a $5 million balance and improved the district’s credit outlook since implementing the “Pathway to the Future” plan.

In the letter, the District states that according to the Basic Education Formula, the Wilkes-Barre Area School District is underfunded annually by an estimated $33 million, and has asked for a face-to-face meeting with the Auditor General.

A list of all the documents provided to the Attorney General can be found here: Documents to AG

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